The Infallibility of the Ahl al-Bayt

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By: Seyyed Ali Shahbaz --

"…Indeed Allah desires to keep away uncleanness from you Ahl al-Bayt and purify you with a thorough purification." (33:33)

"Should anyone argue with you concerning him (Jesus), after the knowledge that has come to you, say: Come! Let us call our sons (abna'ana) and your sons (abna'okum), our women (nisa'ana) and your women (nisa'aokum), our souls (anfusana) and your souls (anfusakum), then let us pray earnestly and call down Allah’s curse upon the liars." (3:61)

The above two passages are the Revealed Words of God Almighty to His Last and Greatest of Messengers in these very days exactly a thousand, four hundred and twenty-four (1424) lunar years ago, that is, 9 AH.

Though the addressee here is Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) they contain a binding message for all Muslims. On closer scrutiny we see that these ayahs refer to a particular group called the Ahl al-Bayt in Surah al-Ahzab, while in Surah Aal-e Imran, sons, women, and souls are mentioned.

The important point to note is that God doesn't use the word "wife" and "spouse", whether in singular or plural forms in both these ayahs, despite the fact that the Prophet, following the passing away of his loyal wife of 25 long years, the One and Only Omm al-Momineen (Mother of all True Believers), Hazrat Khadija al-Kubra (SA), had taken at least nine wives in the last ten years of his life, out of social necessity and to break the taboos of the days of ignorance.

All exegetes of the holy Qur'an, both and Shi'ites and Sunnis, are unanimous that these ayahs were revealed on the eve of the historic Mubahela with the Christian delegation of Najran (in Yemen and presently occupied by the Saudi regime).

They say that after three days of discussions in the most polite and rational manner in front of a great number of his companions, on the realities of Islam, when the Prophet realized that the Christians had shuttered their senses and obstinately stuck to the unconvincing belief that Jesus was the son of God, he prayed to God for resolution of the deadlock, and it was then that these two ayahs were revealed.

The first one vouches the spotless purity of his immediate family the Ahl al-Bayt, and according to Umm Salama, a wife of the Prophet, when she asked the Messenger of Mercy permission to enter the cloak with which he had covered himself and his daughter Fatema (SA), cousin and son-in-law Imam Ali (AS) and two grandsons Imam Hassan (AS) and Imam Husain (AS), she was politely told to stay out, although she is on the path of virtue.

Thus all authoritative Sunni hadith sources citing this and several other narrations even from another spouse called Ayesha, say the Prophet's spouses do not fall in the category of the Immaculate Ahl al-Bayt.

The second ayah proved more pronounced on the identity of the Ahl al-Bayt and removed forever whatever doubts that might arise in the minds of the ignorant till the Day of Resurrection that perhaps the nine ladies married to the Prophet could also be included in this select group.

On the morning of 24th Zil-Hijja, when, as per the accord for invoking divine curse on the liars, the Christians had assembled outside the city with their whole flock including women, Prophet Muhammad (SAWA) calmly and confidently strode to the place of rendezvous, and to the surprise of the people of Najran, none of the throng of companions that had been hovering around him for the past several days in the Mosque of Medina to hear the lively debate on the Virgin-Born Messiah, could be seen with him.

Of course, the only place the Sahaba were visible, was on the edge of the city from where they were watching eagerly and anxiously – some sure of the victory of Islam, some not so sure, and some, especially the hypocrites among them, wishing for the triumph of the Christians and the end of Muhammad (SAWA) and those nearest and dearest to him.

To the amazement of the Christians, the only persons accompanying the Prophet were four in number, of which two were mere children. And of the two grownups, there was only one male in the prime of his manhood, while the other one was a fully veiled lady.

It was crystal clear that the Prophet had not brought with him any of his spouses or his companions, thereby making it clear that God's commandment concerning "our women" (nisa'ana) here meant his only surviving daughter, Fatema az-Zahra (SA), the Pride of Mary and the noblest lady of all time. At the same time, he also made it clear that "our souls" (anfusana) meant none other than his soul-companion since eternity, ward, cousin, son-in-law, and vicegerent, Imam Ali ibn Abi Taleb (AS), while "our sons" (abna'ana) stood only for the Leaders of the Youth of Paradise, his impeccable grandsons, Imam Hasan (AS) and Imam Husain (AS).

The Bishop of Najran was awestruck by the radiance that emitted from these Five Fabulous Figures, and said: If they were to raise their hands to heaven for invoking divine wrath, mountains would move, and none of his flock would be alive. He thus backed off from this strange contest, and acknowledged the truth of Islam.

If only the erring companions of the Prophet had this insight of the delegation of Najran, they would not have damned themselves to divine wrath forever by usurping the rights of the Ahl al-Bayt and subjecting them to persecution and eventual martyrdom, despite the fact that time and again the Prophet had emphasized on the Thaqalayn he was leaving behind for their guidance in life and salvation in afterlife!

I end the column with another ayah revealed by God on this day in another year on the divine-decision to designate Imam Ali (AS) as the successor of the Seal of Prophet, when while in the state of ruku' (genuflection) during the ritual prayer, he gave away his ring as alms by pointing his finger towards the beggar pleading for help in the Mosque of Medina:

"Your guardian (Wali) is only Allah, His Prophet, and the Faithful (one) who maintain(s) the prayer and give(s) the alms, while in the state of genuflection (ruku). Whoever takes for his guardians Allah, His Prophet and the Faithful [should know that] the Hizbullah (Party of God) are indeed the victorious." (5:55-56)

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